The Portsmouth-built training plane that helped win the war

A prototype of an Airspeed Oxford on its maiden flight from Portsmouth on June 19, 1937. Nearly all Second World War Bomber Command crews trained on these. The last Oxford was retired from RAF service in 1956.
A prototype of an Airspeed Oxford on its maiden flight from Portsmouth on June 19, 1937. Nearly all Second World War Bomber Command crews trained on these. The last Oxford was retired from RAF service in 1956.

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We stick with milestone anniversaries and Portsmouth Airport today and remember the much-loved Airspeed Oxford.

Thanks to Bob Wealthy, of Solent Aeromarine Enterprises, for pointing out that Monday marked the 80th anniversary of the plane’s first flight from the city’s airport. It was one of the most famous names to emerge from the Airspeed factory.

The twin-engined aircraft was used for training British Commonwealth crews in navigation, radio-operating, bombing and gunnery roles throughout the Second World War.

It was developed by Airspeed in the 1930s in response to an Air Ministry need for a trainer. Its basic design came from the company’s earlier AS. 6 Envoy, a commercial passenger plane. A prototype made its maiden flight from Portsmouth on June 19, 1937, and was put into production as part of a rapid expansion of the RAF before the Second World War.

A total of 8,586 were built before and during the Second World War of which 4,411 were built in Portsmouth and another 550 at Airspeed’s shadow factory at Christchurch, Dorset.